I think it’s natural to feel the grades you achieve aren’t solely your grades, that those around you, your parents and your teachers have had an influence.
Subsequently, you feel forms of pressure mounting up on you to perform to the level you’re capable of – and often even beyond that. As someone who has achieved highly throughout school, these GCSE grades would serve as a validation of how capable I really was, for my parents, my school and myself.
With final exams finishing well over a month before results day, the gap gave me time to reflect and consider, realistically, what the likely outcome of these grades would be. Luckily, I wasn’t under any great stress over this, with the boundaries for my chosen sixth form being significantly below my predicted grades. Although, thanks to education reforms, I was well aware these grades would be far more influential when applying to highly sought-after places on competitive university courses. I was unsure if I was happy with my performance, both in general academically over the last year, and especially during the exam period. On the positive, my results turned out to be satisfactory by the high standards I set myself, thanks to natural ability and an absence of total complacency. However, I knew full well I had the capability to perform at the highest level – a potential for straight As at the very least – but I was fully aware this would not be what I would achieve.
When the grades were published, I took the laptop containing the grades upstairs to open the results privately, before showing my parents the outcome and discussing how I felt I’d done. Luckily, I was happy with my performance, having achieved a good set of grades, three A*s, four As and four Bs. My parents agreed and just like that I moved on with my day, heading over to Week Three of NCS to continue planning my social action project, and discuss other's grades with them. Of course, it was none of my business how anyone else had performed, but out of sheer curiosity I did enjoy some of the conversations about the newly published results.
Looking back now, it’s very much a mixed bag of feelings. I was disappointed in some grades, with an A in English Language, which I poured huge amounts of effort into, and was therefore sure would convert into an A* on results day. I’d also managed to fluke some grades, achieving an A* in Chemistry despite it being by far my worst science subject, following a worrying D in the mock just a few months earlier.
Overall, I was happy with my grades. There were areas where I still felt I had something to prove, but these grades did a good job of painting a picture of me. I put emphasis on certain subjects during the exam period, and where there was passion, the results shone through. Where there wasn’t, I was able to scrape the grades I wanted; all without, what I considered to be, ‘wasting’ too much time, and I still had the chance to get out, have a good time, and continue pursuing what I really cared about as a result.